ON THE morning of August 14, 1945, Alfred Huberman and 300 other Jewish children boarded 10 converted RAF bombers in Prague.

They spoke no English, had been liberated from Hitler’s death camps just a few months earlier, and were acutely traumatised.

Eight hours later, they landed in England and were taken to the Calgarth Estate at Troutbeck Bridge near Windermere for rehabilitation.

On Monday (National Holocaust Day), to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, BBC2 aired a one-off TV film ‘The Windermere Children’ at 9pm which was broadcast simultaneously in Germany.

It was followed by the documentary ‘The Windermere Children: In Their Own Words’ on BBC Four at 10.30pm.

This remarkable, but little-known true story, is from Bafta-nominated screenwriter Simon Block and Bafta and Emmy-winning director Michael Samuels.

It boasts a star-studded cast, including Romola Garai (The Miniaturist), Iain Glen (Game Of Thrones), Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Tim McInnerny (Strangers).

A stark, but ultimately redemptive story, it follows the pioneering undertaking to mass-rehabilitate deeply traumatised children and depicts the bonds these children forge with one another, friendships which would last a lifetime and sustain them through the challenges of building new lives while living with their horrific experiences.

Alfred passed away in 2011 in Hove, the town he had been proud to call home for 65 years –falling in love and marrying a local girl; raising three children and working in Brighton as a master-tailor.

Throughout his life he remained in constant contact with his oldest and closest friends, the Windermere Children, who had shared his fate during the Second World War and who had been brought with him from the gates of hell to the “paradise” of Lake Windermere to be rehabilitated.

The BBC drama The Windermere Children tells of the start of their new lives in the United Kingdom and was broadcast in the hope that their harrowing stories will help future generations learn from the lessons of the past. And to show that the Holocaust was a process which started with prejudice, intolerance and discrimination.

Alfred dedicated his life to this cause, giving talks to local schools, universities and community groups.

Painful though his memories were, he said: “Alfred wanted everyone to know what hatred of the other could bring about.

“He always said, ‘If I don’t speak out, who will?’”

Hailing from a close-knit Polish-Jewish family of over 50 members, only Alfred and one sister survived the concentration camps.

After the Wehrmacht invaded Poland in 1939, the Jewish population was immediately confronted with violence – savage beatings; deportation for slave labour and driven into overcrowded ghettos.

Eleven-year-old Alfred and his family fled to the countryside but, denounced by the local mayor, were forced into a Jewish ghetto.

His family were torn from each other during a roundup and Alfred was deported to a slave labour camp.

His last heart-breaking memory of his youngest sister was of her being terrified, panic-stricken and distraught.

Working in a munitions factory, he suffered from TNT poisoning and tuberculosis.

Later, he was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp from where – starved, emaciated and ill- he was forced on a Death March to Theresienstadt concentration camp.

After Alfred was liberated in May 1945, he traced one sister who had miraculously survived Auschwitz. His parents, four sisters and more than 50 relatives perished in the death camps.

Before his death he said: ““I get upset when I cannot remember their names. I am the only one left who knew them, what they looked like, so I often repeat to myself my cousins’ names.”

His legacy is The Alfred Huberman Award - a writing competition for young people (aged 18 and under) designed to encourage them to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and to ensure that its horrors will never be forgotten. Further information: http://alfredhuberman.com/ or email info@ldhp.org.uk.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 is Stand Together – to not turn a blind eye to hatred and prejudice and so create a safer future for all children.

Submitted by Rachel Bridgeman